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Let Not The Waves of the Sea
on 4 September 2011
This is an incredibly lyrical and moving book (I cried at least four times during the course of my read - committing the terrible tears on the tube no-no at least twice),it's also funny and candid, full of searing understatement. It's been called a grief memoir, but it seems to me that the centre of the novel is Dominic himself, Simon Stephenson's brother who was killed in the 2004 Tsunami.
It's this richness of contrast that makes this book a portrait in the true sense of the word, full of light and shade and a multitude of angles on the subject matter. It is an honest and compelling exploration of loss but it is also a travel book, biography and autobiography (Dominic and Simon were born in such close proximity that the stories of the childhood are almost one and then same), even a historical and scientific account. These strands weave together and at their centre the reader is left with a space which marks the place that Dominic left in the world of his family and those who loved him.
It is Stephenson's courage and humility in weaving his strands together that make the book so haunting. Dominic was one of approximately 200,000 people who died in the disaster, each death creating it's own epicentre of loss in the lives of those left behind. Simon is realistic about Dominic's place in the magnitude of this grief, but the detail and care expended on this work can become a way to appreciate the enormity of loss as a whole - a still eye of a great storm.